New maternity program at ECRMC gives moms and babies better experience

Patients and staff at El Centro Regional Medical Center cut a ribbon to celebrate the new maternity program at the hospital Wednesday.

EL CENTRO – El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC) has overhauled the facility’s maternity care by introducing a new program called Couplet Care benefiting both mother and baby, according to hospital officials. The new program was celebrated Wednesday by a symbolic ribbon cutting attended by hospital officials and community members.

Couplet Care allows for the mother and baby to remain together in the same room — with delivery taking place in the room and then being used as a nursery for the newborn and mom for the next 24 to 48 hours. Certified Nurse Midwife Ruth Perry said after delivery, the nurse will quickly place the baby on the mother’s chest, creating essential skin contact that encourages mother and child bonding.

According to ECRMC Chief Nursing Officer Lou Kenney, Couplet Care offers benefits for both mother and child. For the baby, it creates a less stressful environment, helps regulate their temperature, and the baby usually sleeps and feeds better overall. For the mother, it allows her learning the baby’s feeding habits, sleeping schedules, and individual characteristics that will better prepare them for homecare.

Kenney said studies have shown mothers and babies recover faster when they room together in the hospital.

A Lactation Support Nurse will also be on hand to show mothers how to breast feed and guide them through the process. New fathers are also given a spot in the room, so they can begin the process of raising their child as well as diaper changing and experiencing the child’s sleep habits.

Prior to the new program, ECRMC followed the practice of separating mother and baby following the delivery. Babies would be taken to a separate nursery to be cleaned up while the mother was tended to in the delivery room. Then, approximately two hours later, the mother and baby were reunited for a few minutes before the baby was taken back to the nursery for another few hours.

With the institution of Couplet Care, some local obstetricians and gynecologists (OBYGYN) now recommend patients to the El Centro hospital. One doctor said the new program will allow patients to stay with doctors they are familiar with, rather than going to Pioneers Memorial Healthcare, where they might not know the medical staff.

New mom-to-be Ashley Castillo said she is scheduled for a C-section on Thursday, and her doctor highly recommended ECRMC.

“It’s great that we are going to have more bonding time,” said Castillo. “I’m feeling comfortable with my choice.”

Another mother, Alma Hernandez, will soon have her first baby born in the Valley. She said she was nervous after hearing ECRMC separated the mother and baby after delivery.  However, she said she has been put at ease after learning about Couplet Care.

“I liked what I heard, and now I’m not so nervous about it,” said Hernandez.

Melissa Borbon, who has already experienced this kind of delivery at ECRMC before, stated it was an amazing experience.

“You have them there, they prep them and clean them, and then you’re just there with your family,” said Borbon. “It is better.”

“It is the best,” said Perry about Couplet Care. “Our priority is patients first, mom and baby first.”

With the future construction of the new hospital, the maternity ward will expand further with new programs and more room for mothers and babies, Kenney said.